I saw Star Trek Into Darkness last night. (Trying to catch up on my summer movie curriculum.) Gotta admit, I was disappointed. Let me say up front…I’m not a Trekkie. I’ve always been more of a Star Wars guy. (My name is Skye…as in Skywalker;) But I do enjoy the Trek movies, and my disappointment with “Into Darkness” isn’t rooted in the complaints I’ve read from the rabid Trek fans. They usually moan about how the movie rewrites history, changed characters, or breaks with past lore. My problem is just the opposite. I felt the film was too faithful to past Trek stories. (Warning some SPOILERS ahead):
First let’s go back to stardate 2009. JJ Abrams’ first “Star Trek” movie was brilliantly constructed. Using the time travel plot element created an alternative history allowing and new Trek films to keep the beloved characters while breaking free from past plot lines. In ’09 Abrams managed the impossible–the resurrection of a series that’s 50 years old without being a slave to the past. He set up the franchise to boldly go where no Trek films had gone before.
Rather than leveraging this freedom to create a new story for our heroes, “Into Darkness” was a disappointing step backwards. To really appreciate its plot, and all of the inside scenes/jokes/lines, one had to be very familiar with the “Wrath of Khan” from 1982. Instead of boldly going where no Star Trek movie has gone before, it felt like “Back to the Future Part 2” where Marty McFly returns to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance to see the same characters and events from another point of view. “Into Darkness” was just too familiar. Too derivative.
I think Abrams missed the opportunity created by his first Trek film. He could have taken us somewhere we’ve not been before, introduced us to a new villain, a new threat, a new world. Strangely “Into Darkness” relied more on the original Star Trek films than his first Trek movie.
On a side note…I don’t understand the title. Why “Into Darkness”? I was expecting a dark second act like “The Empire Strikes Back” or “Wrath of Khan” with an unresolved ending. I thought surely one of our heroes will be lost, dead, or captured. We’ll end with a cliff hanger that leaves us in darkness and longing for the resolution still to come in the third act. But that’s not what we got. The way the film ended one would think it was the finale of Abrams’ Trek movies…the conclusion of his story arc.
Oh well, let’s just hope he shows more creativity with Star Wars Episode VII. What did you think of “Into Darkness”? I’d like to know. Maybe Phil and I will discuss it on next week’s podcast.